Consumption of cocoa beans and its products is protective against stomach ulcer as well as its consequences, scientists have found.
The scientists, who tested the extracts of the dried beans of cocoa beans on Helicobacter pylori, indicated that its regular consumption could greatly reduce the incidence of peptic ulcer, as well as suppress the gastrointestinal inflammation caused by the bacteria.
H. pylori are a type of bacteria that enters the body and live in the digestive tract. After many years, they can cause sores, called ulcers, in the lining of the stomach or the upper part of the small intestine. For some people, an infection can lead to stomach cancer.
Infection with H. pylori is common, especially in countries or communities that lack clean water or good sewage systems. About two-thirds of the world’s population has it in their bodies. For most people, it doesn’t cause ulcers or any other symptoms. However, for individuals with the problem, there are medicines that can kill the germs and help sores heal.
For decades, doctors thought people got ulcers from stress, spicy foods, smoking, or other lifestyle habits. But when scientists discovered H. pylori in 1982, they found that the germs were the cause of most stomach ulcers.
After H. pylori enters the body, it attacks the lining of the stomach, which usually protects from the acid the body uses to digest food. Once the bacteria have done enough damage, acid can get through the lining, which leads to ulcers. These may bleed, cause infections, or keep food from moving through the digestive tract.
Many people get H. pylori during childhood, but adults can get it, too. The germs live in the body for years before symptoms start, but most people who have it never get ulcers. Doctors are not sure why only some people get ulcers after an infection.
Based on the study, the extract, which was tested on H. pylori collected from a cross-section of residents living in Oyo State, inhibited the growth of the causative agent for ulcer to different extents based on its concentration used.
The researchers in the December 2014 edition of the Journal of Herbal Medicine found a decline in the surviving population of the H pylori after eight hours on testing with the methanol extract of the cocoa seed. But by 24 hours, all had died.
The study entitled, “Susceptibility testing and bactericidal activities of Theobroma cacao Linn. (cocoa) on Helicobacter pylori in an in vitro study” was carried out by Temitope O. Lawal; Taiye A. Olorunnipa; and Bolanle A. Adeniyi, all of the Department of Pharmaceutical Microbiology, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Ibadan.
Moreover, another study also named Corchorus olitorius, commonly called Jute Mallow and known as Ewedu and Ahihara in the Yoruba and Igbo languages respectively as protective against the effects of ulcers.
In a study, researchers who treated male albino rats with water extracts of jute mallow over a two week period found it reduced ulcer formation as well as decreased gastric acid production in a dose dependent manner.
This 2015 study was entitled “Anti-Ulcerogenic and Gastric Antisecretory Effects of Corchorus olitorius Extract in Male Albino Rats”. It involved Bamidele V. Owoyele; W. Abdulmajeed; B. M. Adisa, O. O. Owolabi and Sabitiu A. Oyeleke, all from the University of Ilorin. It was in the Journal of Herbs, Spices & Medicinal Plants.
Reported to be a folk remedy for aches and pains, dysentery, fever, dysentery and pectoral pains, Ayurvedics use the leaves of Jute Mallow for treating pain, piles, and tumours. Also, the leaves are used for the treatment of gonorrhoea, infertility, increase the flow of breast milk in nursing women, prevent convulsion and as a purgative agent. The cold infusion is also said to restore the appetite and strength.
This green, leafy vegetable is rich in beta-carotene for good eye sight; iron for healthy red blood cells; calcium for strong bones and teeth; and vitamin C for smooth, clear skin, strong immune cells and fast wound-healing.
Jute Mallow is extensively consumed as a “healthy vegetable” in Japan, because it contains Vitamins A, C and E that mops up free radicals. Its abundant antioxidants have been associated with protection from chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and hypertension as well as other medical conditions.
Previously, honey was shown to be an effective ulcer treatment for two reasons. First, glucose oxidase, an enzyme in honey, produces hydrogen peroxide, which kills harmful bacteria that can contribute to the development of ulcers. Also, the other floral antibacterial substances in honey, which come from flowers when bees collect pollen, add to honey’s effectiveness in eliminating bacteria.
Certain varieties of honey, however, can be more effective than others at healing ulcers. But the key to a successful ulcer treatment appears to hinge on it being natural, unprocessed honey.
In addition, research on the preventive and therapeutic benefits of garlic shows that it can keep levels of the H. Pylori in check. An overgrowth of the H. pylori bacterium can contribute to the development of stomach ulcers.
Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle discovered that garlic exhibits specific antimicrobial activity against H. pylori without entirely eliminating the strain. The elimination of H. pylori can cause other digestive woes.
Decades before antibiotics, cabbage juice was successfully used to prevent or heal ulcers. In one study, it was shown that cabbage juice alone had a cure rate of over 92 per cent in the treatment of ulcers. This compared to about a 32 per cent cure rate in those using a placebo or other treatment.
In the study, the dosage consisted of only 50 mL of raw cabbage juice derived from a quart of freshly pressed cabbage. Cabbage is also a reliable source of vitamin C, which has been found to be lower in the gastric juice of ulcer patients.
Moreover, eating hot chili peppers actually prevents ulcer development. Peppers have been shown to trigger mechanisms that protect the lining of the stomach. Studies in Hungary found that consumption of capsaicin (the chemically active component in most peppers) actually decreased the acid output of the stomach, while at the same time increased protective secretions.
In fact, capsaicin was found to be particularly effective at protecting the stomach from ulcerations caused by alcohol and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as aspirin).